Environmental Rights Action (ERA) has asked the Federal Government to Gazette the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 without further delay to commence its implementation.
The group expressed worry that over 6 months after the Regulations were approved by the Eight National Assembly before their tenure elapsed in June, the NTC Act was yet to be on gazette record, which is worrisome.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos today, Monday, 25th Nov, Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN, Deputy Executive Director, raised the alarm that the delay in the gazette of the NTC Regulations 2019 is being exploited by the tobacco multinationals to entrench their stronghold on the Nigerian market, while Nigerians are dying instalmentally from tobacco-induced sickness.
Some of the provisions of the Act includes among others: that all forms of tobacco products shall carry health warnings; 50 percent Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) on all tobacco products, to be automatically increased to 60 percent in four years; increased smoke-free areas, mandatory and uniform notices, and duty of owners to report and enforce; stringent conditions for Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs); licensing for manufacturers and importers, and distributors of tobacco products; comprehensive annual reporting system from the tobacco industry to the Federal Ministry of Health; and prohibition of tobacco industry interference/participation in tobacco control activities and stronger penalty for defaulters.
“As the yuletide sets in, we expect a further escalation of tobacco industry activities to market their deadly ware. Unfortunately, the target will again be our innocent youths that they want to conscript into smoking and hook for life as a replacement for an already dying generation of current smokers” Oluwafemi cautioned.
He further warned on the danger of continued delay, calling on all stakeholders to rise to the challenge. “We are calling on the Federal Ministry of Health to see the regulation process to its very conclusion. As we all know, the current Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Senator Olorunimbe Mamora have records of great works in tobacco control. We, therefore, anticipate that their appointments will reinvigorate tobacco control efforts championed by the ministry.
“To block any lacuna that could be exploited by the tobacco corporations to continue to recruit out kids and loved ones into smoking addiction, we are urging the ministers to give the regulation the urgent attention it deserves as we are requesting the swift gazette-ing of the regulations so that enforcement of its provisions can commence immediately.
“The delay in gazette-ing the regulations is discomforting to Nigerians who had anticipated that the passion exhibited by the National Assembly in its passage would equally drive timely commencement of its enforcement.